Roles and responsibilities of local government under the RMA

Making decisions under the RMA is usually the responsibility of local authorities unless matters are referred to the Minister for the Environment or Minister of Conservation. This page describes the roles and responsibilities of territorial authorities (city and district councils) and regional councils under the RMA.

Territorial authority (city and district council) responsibilities

District and city councils are generally responsible for making decisions about:

  • the effects of land use
  • the effects of activities on the surface of rivers and lakes
  • noise
  • subdivision.

Regional council responsibilities

Regional councils are charged with the integrated management of the natural and physical resources of a region. Regional councils are generally responsible for making decisions about:

  • discharges of contaminants to land, air or water
  • water quality and quantity
  • the coastal marine area
  • soil conservation 
  • land use to avoid natural hazards
  • investigating land to identify and monitor contaminated land
  • preparing regional policy statements.

Councils can also issue infringement notices, abatement notices and excessive noise directions to people who are not complying with the RMA, national environmental standards or council plans.

Monitoring RMA processes

The Ministry has a responsibility to monitor the implementation of the Resource Management Act (RMA). We are interested in how the RMA is being put into practice, highlighting any trends, and providing local authorities with information about RMA processes. Historically, information to monitor RMA processes has been through the RMA Survey of Local Authorities run every two years. In 2014 the survey was replaced with the National Monitoring System for the RMA, see Developing a national monitoring system for the Resource Management Act. 

For more information see: RMA monitoring.

Supplying information to the Minister

Local authorities are required to supply information at no cost to the Minister if the information is related to their functions, powers or duties under the Act, if requested.

Regional councils must supply information at no cost to the Minister of Conservation about the regional council’s monitoring of a coastal permit relating to its region, its regional coastal plan, or the exercise of a protected customary right in its region.